Scoring your sourdough

After proofing in the fridge for 13 hours, it’s time for scoring and baking. Like shaping, scoring takes practice. And more practice.

Before scoring, I pull my Challenger Bread Pan out of the oven, and take off the cover. I then take my banneton and start turning it over into the shallow base of the Challenger. I eyeball the top of the banneton and the side of the pan so that they are parallel. This helps me get my loaf into the pan so that it’s right in the center of the base.

The reason that you score your dough with a razor blade is to create a weak section on the surface of the dough. This helps control the expansion of your loaf when it’s baking. And if your dough is shaped and proofed well, you’ll get nice oven spring with an ear. Besides the taste of fresh-baked bread, the way a loaf looks is important. Everyone eats with their eyes. Plus, every loaf looks completely different: colors, oven spring, ear, and blisters. It’s all beautiful to me.

I still haven’t really got the hang of scoring down, but I’ve learned a few things.

I really like to take a few practice swings with my arm. I start slightly off center at the top of the loaf and make a small arc so that I end up off center at the bottom of the loaf. I like to watch how the lame moves. I’ve learned that it’s really an arm movement. My wrist and elbow don’t bend at all. I also used to try to make the score with the edge of the razor. It took me a long time to realize that I really needed to make the score with the corner of a razor blade so I get a nice clean cut.

I don’t score super fast like some of the professional bakers that I see. I do like to make the score in one even movement. I breathe in and think, “and”. And then breathe out as I start scoring, and I think a somewhat long, “one” as I make the entire score in that out breath.

I then cover my Challenger and put it back in the oven.